Vote in our photo competition

Do you like the selection of background pictures available in Linux Mint? We think they’re pretty good, but we want to find ways of giving our up-cycled laptops more of a distinct identity and we’ve been looking for graphics to include with them in future.

Running from June 3rd to July 1st, we’ll be accepting votes for the most popular from a set of 13 photos that were submitted by visitors to an open day at a local small-holding. So head over to our photo page and let us know which is your favourite. The winner will be used to make the default desktop background on our next batch of computers – to be announced at the club meeting on July 2nd 2016.

Software monopolies and enforced consumption in schools

What would you think if you got a letter from your (or your child’s) school telling you that kids could only take part in the gym class if they had a particular brand of trainers? Or if they could only take part in the art class if they bought a particular brand of paints? You’d be pretty cross, right? Continue reading Software monopolies and enforced consumption in schools

BIOS updates

All the laptops we’ve supplied contain some programs that are built-in to the chips and can’t be easily updated in the way you would update your other software, which lives on the hard drive. This category of programs generally is known as firmware, and the component we’re talking about now is called the BIOS (basic input-output system.)

Like all programs, they contain bugs despite being extensively tested before release. Most of the time, these bugs are so trivial that they won’t affect you however sometimes situations arise when you might want to update it to the latest version.

Continue reading BIOS updates

Welcome to the new website. It’s not quite finished yet so don’t panic if you get error messages in your browser, particularly if you’re trying to use https rather than http.

Below this post, you should be able to find the first two issues of Utter Pie, the re-pute.it newsletter, archived in their original ASCII format. Future newsletters will include posts from this blog. If you’d like to subscribe to the blog you can use the RSS feed from this page, or to receive a once-monthly newsletter by email, please sign up by emailing news@re-pute.it

Utter Pie issue 2

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|___ Issue 2 ___________________________ May 2016 ___|


###  UTTER PIE  ###

###  the re-pute.it newsletter  ### 

###  Issue 2 ----- May 2016  ###


For all customers who wanted some training on computer security and on-line privacy, have a look at the CryptoParty event in the diary section...


IN THIS ISSUE:
==============

* Re-pute.it passes its first tonne of CO2 saving
* Live-coding music on a re-pute.it X200s
* What's wrong with WEEE?
* Could your business partner with re-pute.it?
* Dates for your diary
* Season's greetings


Celebrating the first tonne of CO2 saved by re-pute.it
======================================================

Because one of re-pute.it's goals is to reduce CO2 emissions caused by excessive consumption of new electronics, it makes sense to track how much has been saved by the project so far. At the AGM of Transition Durham [0], a local organisation concerned with energy descent, re-pute.it was please to announce that an estimated 1,125kg CO2 (eq) emission has been avoided. This is really a conservative estimate, as it doesn't account for things like the energy saved in data centres by our customers blocking unwanted adverstising and not being pushed into further unnecessary consumption.

A prize of two hours free labour (enough for a typical windows-to-linux conversion) was won by the secretary of Transition Durham, Charlotte Lee, for guessing the closest to the actual figure. This was possible because we used standard methods of life-cycle assessment [1] and gave clues in our previous emails - well done Charlotte.

In addition to that competition and announcement, we went to join in a celebration with the local Social Entrepeneurs' Network to join some other people who were marking their acheivements at an event last Wednesday. It seems like re-pute.it was the first project to report CO2 savings as a social outcome there: THAT'S what we're talking about when we talk about laptops with ethics to be proud of, and ALL of our customers have played a part in this acheivement, so well done all of you!


Live-coding music on a re-pute.it X200s
=======================================

We often get asked what our low-voltage repurposed laptops, such as the ThinkPad X200s, are capable of. The short answer is "most things that normal people do on computers", but it's good to have some examples of unusual things too.

Last month, one of our laptops went on a mission to a live-coding workshop at Newcastle Library. Live-coding is a musical discipline in which the computer is programmed to produce music and the programme is altered while it runs, as a performance piece.

We are happy to report that the X200s is comfortably capable of running "audacity", a sound editor, and "sonic pi", a live-coding environment, so we can add these to the list. There is even some blurry video evidence to prove it [2]. 


What's wrong with WEEE?
=======================

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment ("WEEE" a.k.a. e-waste) is subject to strict European guidelines to ensure that the materials that stuff is made from are recycled. Sounds good? Well, better than putting it in landfill, but in the case of making laptops, it doesn't save any energy to start with recycled materials rather than newly-extracted minerals. And there are other problems too: Because the system of payments and incentives behind WEEE processing is obscure and poorly enforced, only a third of e-waste even gets as far as the officially regulated recycling process.

What this means is that manufacturers can keep the pressure on for people to consume more and more disposable stuff, rather than developing a truly circular economy with emphasis on long-lived, easily repaired goods. Re-pute.it is one of a growing number of projects aiming to tackle this problem by repairing, re-purposing and upcycling stuff - recycling alone is not enough. 

The re-start project recently produced a video from a special trip to an e-waste recycling facility in Kent. Why not watch it and invite your friends and family to do the same [3] - "The feeling of seeing this mountain of discarded, recently useful stuff could only be compared to the devastating feeling of seeing a clear-cut forest."


Could your business partner with re-pute.it?
============================================

We want to develop a genuinely sustainable, local, circular economy for electronic goods and that's a huge task so we need your help!

Re-pute.it is currently seeking partner organisations who would prefer their old business laptops to be re-used in the local area, rather than going into the official or unofficial e-waste streams. We're open to discussions about what you might get in return - for example, we could offer certificates of data destruction, publicise your organisation as our sponsor, or offer staff training.

Interested? Know an organisation that wants to help the environment and to build a circular economy? Get in touch with mark@re-pute.it


Dates for your diary
====================

----------------------------------------------------------
7th May 2016 (Saturday), 11 AM - 1 PM, and the 1st Saturday each month

Re-pute.it computer support club
Room 2, Alington House Community Association, 4 North Bailey, Durham

Bring a Linux-related project, a support question, a friend or just yourself!

This month we'll be trying to turn an old laptop with broken screen and keyboard into a home server. Can the re-pute.it regulars rise to the challenge? Who knows! Come and join in!

Cafe will be open
----------------------------------------------------------


----------------------------------------------------------
17th May 2016 (Tuesday), 7.30 PM - 10.30(ish), and the 3rd Tuesday each month

Durham Linux User Group
Bar, Durham Amateur Rowing Club, Green Lane, Durham

Informal meeting open to anyone interested in Linux

Bar will be open
----------------------------------------------------------


----------------------------------------------------------
22nd May 2016 (Sunday), 1 PM - 3 PM

CryptoParty Newcastle [5]
In the former crèche room, Level 2, Newcastle Library, Newbridge Street, Newcastle

Learn how to protect your privacy on-line using simple cryptographic tools
(please help publicise by sharing or displaying posters/fliers [6])

There will be cake
----------------------------------------------------------


Season's greetings
==================

Whether you've been celebrating Beltane or May Day, or just enjoying the longer days, you must have noticed we've had a fairly cold April locally (in contrast to global average temperatures, which so far this year have been the hottest ever recorded).

If you've been postponing the start of your outdoor year until the temperature went up, the good news is that there's still plenty of time to have a go at growing your own veg. There's even some guidance that's adapted specifically to growing in the North-East to help you [4] when you feel you need a break from the computer.

Best wishes from mark@re-pute.it


[0] http://www.transitiondurham.org.uk/
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_assessment
[2] https://www.flickr.com/photos/newcastlelibraries/26187869610/in/album-72157652681510606/
[3] https://therestartproject.org/consumption/fixing-our-massive-electronic-waste-problem/
[4] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bvKMe2RYOcwb5Xeg1Mq9pJd3xBgdeyxp_4ut4DMZozU/edit
[5] https://cryptoparty.in/newcastle
[6] https://www.flickr.com/photos/137781729@N08/sets/72157667234594126


To unsubscribe, or to be subscribed to the circulation list if you were forwarded this email by someone else, please send a message to info@re-pute.it

Utter Pie issue 1

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|             _   _                    _             |
|       _   _| |_| |_ ___ _ __   _ __ (_) ___        |
|      | | | | __| __/ _ \ '__| | '_ \| |/ _ \       |
|      | |_| | |_| |_| __/ |    | |_) | |  __/       |
|       \__,_|\__|\__\___|_|    | .__/|_|\___|       |
|                               |_|                  |
|___ Issue 1 _________________________ March 2016 ___|


###  UTTER PIE ###

###  the re-pute.it newsletter  ### 

###  Issue 1 ----- March 2016



Dear customers, friends, computer re-puters and neighbours,

Here is the first issue of "Utter Pie", the monthly newsletter of the re-pute.it project. Based in Durham, UK, re-pute.it provides green, reliable, affordable laptops, Linux conversions and related services. Every month, we'll write to update you about what's happening in the world of green computing and the free software that it relies on. Also we'll inform you of any news about the computers we've sold, recommended updates, hints and tips.
 
Subscription / unsubscription information is at the bottom of this message.


IN THIS ISSUE:
==============

* Review process and feedback
* New website
* Re-pute.it in the News
* Getting Video to Work in Skype
* Changes to support club
* Re-pute.it Associates with Transition Durham
* Dates for your diary


Review Process
==============

Thanks very much to all of you who've given feedback after the first three months of re-pute.it. It seemed like an important thing to do because there haven't been as many sales of laptops as expected, yet people have been asking for other things, e.g. getting Linux installed on their own laptops. So it was time to take stock and think about the next steps for the project. Here are a few of the highlights - 

 - People are highly satisfied with Thinkpads and Mint
 - The support club is seen as a very high value service
 - There are some great opportunities for development, including;
   - to be more inclusive of younger people, schools and colleges
   - to make more links with other local groups
   - to produce more media (web, email, social media) about the project
 - Review needs to be a continuous process, so more feedback is always welcome


New Website
===========

Following on from the idea of producing more media, you're already reading a newsletter which is the first of several developments. Next, you'll notice some changes being made to the website at www.re-pute.it, which at first will just be a change in appearance, but over time you'll see new features being added. There'll be a blog, more details about different products & services, hints & tips for green computing and more.

Also, re-pute.it has a facebook presence [1] because that seems to be the best way to reach some people, however we don't encourage people to use facebook so we promise that anything that we put on there will be available through other channels, i.e. this monthly newsletter or the website. Any offers of contributions on relevant topics are welcome - just reply to this email to discuss.


Re-pute.it in the News
======================

Since launching, we've been featured in Cross Quarterly (Neville's Cross community newsletter), Durham Times [2] and the award-winning blog Tracing Green [3]. Thanks to all three for providing their own unique angle on the project.


Getting Video to Work in Skype
==============================

Skype is owned by Microsoft, so it's no surprise that since they acquired it, support for Linux has been getting worse. Some of you may have noticed that in Linux Mint, certain webcams don't just work when you plug them in.

If this effects you, we'd recommend this procedure:

 - firstly, make sure you're in the 'video' group (menu > administration > users and groups > manage groups) then log off and on again

 - if it still doesn't work, try typing this at the command line:

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype

 - if it still doesn't work, let Mark know and he'll try to find a solution for you


Changes to Support Club
=======================

Although the support club is highly valued by those who attend, there's plenty of space for more people to come and benefit. It would be good to see more potential customers there, getting an idea of what's on offer before they buy a laptop, so please invite any friends who might be considering buying a new computer or feeling unsure whether they can manage the change to Linux (hopefully we can inspire confidence in the majority for whom it is appropriate, without misleading the few for whom it isn't).

In order to make the support club more decentralised, we'll be introducing a new format in which customers & other Linux users are encouraged to "show and tell", which could mean bringing a project to discuss, or just sharing what you learnt about your computer or used it for in the last month.

Also note that we'll be hiring the room for two hours rather than three for the time being, with an option to increase back up to three hours or even longer if we get busy.


Re-pute.it Associates with Transition Durham
============================================

Transition Town Initiatives aim to to support and encourage local action on peak oil, climate change and community resilience. On March 30th, re-pute.it joined several other local groups in becoming an Associated Organisation of Transition Durham. Anyone who wants to get a broader idea about local campaigning for a sustainable future would do well to look at their great website [4].


Dates for your Diary
====================

----------------------------------------------------------
2nd April 2016 (Saturday), 11 AM - 1 PM, and the 1st Saturday each month
Re-pute.it computer support club
Room 2, Alington House Community Association, 4 North Bailey, Durham

Bring a Linux-related project, a support question, a friend or just yourself!
Cafe will be open
----------------------------------------------------------


----------------------------------------------------------
19th April 2016 (Tuesday), 7.30 PM - 10.30(ish), and the 3rd Tuesday each month
Durham Linux User Group
Bar, Durham Amateur Rowing Club, Green Lane, Durham

Informal meeting open to anyone interested in Linux
Bar will be open
----------------------------------------------------------


----------------------------------------------------------
22nd May 2016 (Sunday), 1 PM - 3 PM
CryptoParty Newcastle [5]
The former creche room, Level 2, Newcastle Library, Newbridge Street, Newcastle

Learn how to protect your privacy on-line using simple cryptographic tools
There will be cake
----------------------------------------------------------


And Finally ...
===============

Green computing is only one small part of what it'll take to save the world - we think that personal, social and environmental well-being requires balance. So don't spend all your hours looking at a screen. It's a good time to be sowing some broad beans, getting your bicycle out, ending extractivism [6] or just enjoying a stroll in the woods.

Best wishes from mark@re-pute.it


[1] https://facebook.com/re-puteit
[2] http://www.durhamadvertiser.co.uk/news/14170089.display/
[3] http://tracinggreen.uk/lifestyle/repute-laptop-upcycling/
[4] http://www.transitiondurham.org.uk/
[5] https://cryptoparty.in/newcastle
[6] https://breakfree2016.org/


To unsubscribe, or to be subscribed to the circulation list if you were forwarded this email by someone else, please send a message to info@re-pute.it